Looking to End Two Streaks, Hornets Host West-Leading Nuggets

by Sam Perley

One of the hottest teams in the NBA will go head to head with the Charlotte Hornets tonight as the latter welcomes the Denver Nuggets to town for a 7 p.m. tipoff at Spectrum Center.

Charlotte has now dropped a season-high three-straight games, while Denver enters this contest riding a seven-game winning streak, its longest in over five seasons. Currently holding a 17-7 record, the Nuggets owe a lot of their seasonal success to a much-improved defense, having gone from 23rd in the league last year (109.9 rating) all the way up to fifth (104.0).

In order for the Hornets to cease both streaks, they’ll need a strong, all-around outing from center Cody Zeller. Back in the starting lineup after a one-game hiatus, a more offensively-polished Zeller is putting up 9.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, a career-high 2.0 assists and also ranks second in the league amongst centers in free-throw percentage this season (personal-high 84.8 percent).

But for the fourth-straight outing, the Hornets will face another high-caliber NBA center, this time it’s triple-double threat, Nikola Jokić. The Serbian seven-footer is averaging 16.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and perhaps a testament to his water polo background, a personal-best 7.8 assists as well. Zeller and the Charlotte bigs will need to clamp down on Jokić in the paint and keep a sharp eye out for his trademark, head-spinning passes.

Game Note – The Hornets have won four of their five home games against the Nuggets since the start of the 2013-14 season. The all-time head-to-head series is currently tied at 28-28.

Classic Fact – P.J. Brown had a career-high 22 rebounds, while Elden Campbell had 18 rebounds in a 94-80 home win over the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 7, 2002. This is the only time in franchise history the Hornets have had two players record at least 18 rebounds in the same regular season game.